The role of retail customer experience in driving sales can’t be overstated. How customers experience your store is a crucial part of the sales process. A positive experience will lead to repeat business.
A negative one will make potential customers walk out the door.
For many brands, this is difficult to pin down. After all, customer experience can mean different things to different people. It’s a fact of life that not all customers are alike, as people have different wants and needs.
There are countless different variables which make retail customer experience. Luckily though, these can essentially be placed into a handful of categories. With that in mind, here are the five factors which create an amazing customer experience.
1. In-Store Appearance, Layout and Atmosphere
It’s a cliche that first impressions are everything. However, as soon as they walk through the doors, customers start to form an opinion about your brand. This can be as simple as basic store hygiene.
Consider whether the appearance of your store projects your desired brand image. This includes:
- Interior design,
- Exterior signage,
- Staff presentation,
- In-store technology,
- Stock levels,
- And much more.
Customers make subconscious decisions based on countless small factors. The key here is to ensure that the appearance of your store lines up with how you want customers to perceive your brand.
Take in-store lighting for example. Do you want to project the image of a bright and modern company, or would you rather your customers have a more relaxed and atmospheric experience in your store?
Beyond first impressions, in-store layout is a critical element of retail customer experience.
This comes down to enabling customers to find the products they’re looking for. A logical store layout groups products together based on their relationships.
The key to achieving this is the right product information management system, which allows you to place products exactly where customers need them. This is especially helpful when it comes to upselling and cross-selling opportunities.
2. Customer Service
Staff interactions also play a huge role in retail customer experience. There are essentially two levels to this:
- The availability of staff as a whole,
- The expertise, knowledge and qualities of individual staff members.
Most of us have had the experience of needing help with a purchase, only to find it impossible to find a member of staff. This is a sure fire way to lose sales, as it tells customers that their business isn’t important to you.
The key is to have sufficient numbers of staff, placed around the store to assist customers.
Beyond this, your team members should be equipped to answer common customer queries. This means having a thorough understanding of product features, relationships, prices, technical specifications, compatibility and alternatives.
Again, a strong product information management toolkit makes this much easier.
3. Retail Customer Experience and In-Store Marketing
Your in-store marketing efforts are deeply tied to your customer experience. In fact, you can’t really have one without the other.
While some people have a perception that any in-store marketing leads to a poor customer experience, this isn’t really true. Marketing doesn’t mean pushing products that customers don’t want.
Instead, marketing means helping customers to find the products they need.
This contributes to a positive customer experience. There are a number of ways to use in-store marketing to improve your customer experience. For example, using strong POS design to direct customers towards offers and promotions.
Alternatively, you can use modern technology, like digital signage to more efficiently communicate key information to customers. This can be a mixture of product information, promotions and even store maps.
This also ties in with what we said earlier about keeping your staff informed about the products you carry. Answering queries is an opportunity to upsell by matching customers to the products which best meet their needs.
4. Offers, Promotions and In-Store Pricing Strategy
There’s no getting around the fact that price is the most important decision factor for many customers. In fact, just about everyone likes to feel like they are getting more for their money, whether this is through discounts or multi-buy deals.
Not only does this help to attract new customers, it also boosts the average purchase value of your existing customers.
There are two challenges to creating a strong retail customer experience with offers and promotions:
- Deciding on the right offers,
- Communicating these to potential customers.
There are a number of ways to get around the first challenge. You might choose to bundle lower value accessories or other related products with larger products, or you could use discounts and promotions to bring in new customers.
When it comes to communicating offers to customers, the key is to use a range of in-store and other channels to build awareness. In other words, you want to provide information in the places that the most people will see it.
However, when you do this, it’s important to achieve consistent branding. Effective digital asset management tools can be used to quickly and cheaply create professional marketing materials for a wide variety of online and physical marketing channels.
5. Align Online and In-Store Customer Experience
It’s been well established that consumers are more likely to trust their peers about a brand than the brand itself. This comes down to the fact that people think other consumers are more credible than companies.
One way to leverage this fact is encouraging customers to create user-generated content relating to their in-store experience. You might then offer them rewards for sharing this content on social media.
To boost these efforts, you can use POS marketing materials like stands, cutouts and other displays to give customers an opportunity to document and promote their customer experience.
How to Improve Your Retail Customer Experience
Every retail company is different, and so is every customer. The key to creating a great in-store customer experience is understanding what your customers respond to the best. For example, what works for a discount retailer won’t work for a major premium brand.
There are countless different ways to improve your retail customer experience. To discuss how technology and digitalisation can help you with this, speak to Visual ID today.